Rev. William J. Dykstra, 78, a compassionate counselor who was forthright in his demeanor, passed away on May 29 after a bout with esophageal cancer. Dykstra was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he attended Southwest Christian School and Christian High School. He enrolled at Calvin College in l954, following a personal conviction to devote his life to the gospel ministry. He graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in l962.
Dykstra served the following Christian Reformed congregations: Alto (Wisc.) CRC; McBain (Mich.) CRC; and Cascades Fellowship CRC in Jackson, Mich. Dykstra increasingly felt that his calling lay in chaplaincy, standing with people in need of counseling and personal assistance. He obtained a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and subsequently worked as a chaplain at State Prison of Southern Michigan for 22 years. He retired in 1990 after an auto accident.
Dykstra was a man of deep understanding and perceptive sympathy. He met the pastoral needs of his congregations with the practice of devout personal prayer. This practice only intensified during the years of prison ministry, when so much of his ministry was devoted to people who knew the pain of intense loneliness, anger, and regret.
Dykstra was a well-rounded person. He was a capable carpenter, loved gardening, enjoyed classical music, sang in church choirs, and played a good game of chess. He was a devout husband and father.
Dykstra is survived by his wife, Marcy, and their children Lori and Bob Hesselink, Gayl and Brad Kessel, Mark and Danell Dykstra, and nine grandchildren.